TEA AND CEREMONY – Marilyn Armstrong

For Rashmi Kashyap – I miss you and hope you are well.


I don’t remember exactly when, I mentioned in a post how difficult it is to get good tea in the U.S. It isn’t impossible. If you have sufficient resources, you can get anything.

Ordinary folk are limited to local shops and the ubiquitous Internet. The problem is not that tea is unavailable. It is high quality fresh tea which is very hard to find. By the time we get it, it’s old. Tired. Teabag tea is not tea. I’m not sure what it is.

tea pot, tea canister, tea

I’m sure there are sources for better tea, especially in cities which are home to large Asian communities. But not here. Out here, a lot of stuff isn’t on sale anywhere. Thus the Internet!

We won’t starve. Beef, chicken, some fish. If you want something more exotic and need items to make Asian cuisine, those are rare. For years, I couldn’t even find matzoh meal, which I never considered remotely exotic. Perhaps I am exotic.

We live in the country. Rural. On the plus side, we are blessed — in season — with fresh produce from local farms. Milk comes from cows who graze in green pastures and sleep contentedly in the shade on warm summer days. Eggs are laid by chickens who wander about, pecking and clucking. They don’t know how lucky they are.

glass teapot

We’ve got horses, goats, and the occasional llama … but fresh tea? Rice other than Carolina long grain? Spices? Fresh curry powder? Light or medium soy sauce?

It’s no wonder Americans are not tea drinkers considering the tasteless dust which passes for tea. I’m pretty sure our local Chinese restaurants (there are not many of them) make tea made from teabags in the kitchen. The only good tea I’ve had in years is the green tea at a Japanese restaurant.

tea in teapot

The miracles wrought by the Internet are not limited to exchanging email and reading each others’ blogs. Rashmi Kashyap heard the yearning in my post. Last week, a package arrived from far away India.

Wrapped carefully in fabric, packed for its long journey around the world. Tea. Fresh, beautiful tea. Not the dry, old stuff you get here or even online, but tea so young it can remember growing in the earth.

teapot and canister

I have a big earthenware teapot and made a pot that same night. It was amazing. Garry admitted he had never tasted tea like that. It was a different experience.

I needed a smaller, brewing teapot suitable for a couple. I have owned several over the years, but since coming back from Israel, it has seemed pointless. Now, though, I have a reason.

brewed tea in glass teapot

Amazon to the rescue. One glass, brewing teapot, perfect for two people. A small canister to store the tea, seal out light and seal in freshness. A tea measuring spoon because (blush) I don’t remember how to measure tea anymore. After 33 years in the U.S., I can’t think metric.  I thought I couldn’t forget. I was wrong.

It took a couple of days to get my teapot and other things. Finally, I could properly serve tea.

It is a soul-enriching experience. Tea in the evening. A couple of crispy things on the side. Garry drank three cups (they are little cups, tea cups) as did I.

I thank my friend on the other side of the word with each sip. I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Maybe this post will help.

PRAY FOR CHENNAI

THE FLOODS OF CHENNAI – SOUL & SPIRIT

Yesterday, in the midst of the busyness that seems to be an inevitable part of this season, I noticed that Rashmi of Soul & Spirit, hadn’t been by in a long time. I’m used to her going silent for a week or a few days at a time. Her life, with a military husband, has her on the road and moving around more than most people. But this was a particularly long silence … 12 days of silence.

So … recognizing my tendency to lose track of time and become completely absorbed in my moment — forgetting that other people are entwined in their own problems — I wrote her to find out what was going on and if she was okay.

She is okay, if by okay you mean alive. Not okay, because the area in which she is currently residing has been hit by epic floods, the worse in living memory. There has been much loss of life. Many people are homeless, so that even those who have survived have lost everything.

You can find out a lot about it by Googling “Chennai floods 2015.” It has been in the news in the U.S. too, but speaking of self-involvement, it hasn’t gotten much play in the press. Here’s the articles from Wikipedia and there is much more online.

This note from Rashmi gives a more personal picture.

“In our part of world Chennai floods have created havoc. Two of my friends have lost everything in the devastation. Their house was submerged, dogs drowned. Somehow, they were evacuated in time, save by a timely alert. A colonel & his wife could not be saved. We knew the couple and the news came as a shock. Army camp was badly affected. One of my friend’s son has not yet been traced; he was in one of Chennai’s hostels. We have an intuition they are going to receive only his body. Things are worst for the victims and there are so many. I’m feeling so sad. I’ll be back in a day or two.

Thank you so much for the concern. It reminded me I haven’t talked to my fellow bloggers for more than 10 days. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts. It means a lot, I swear.

Regards, Rashmi.”

soul n spirit

On 2nd of Dec. India woke up to watch dejected,  traumatized, hopeless faces of innocent people of Chennai. 

Everything was absolutely fine till 30th Nov. I posted my last post on WordPress and went to school in the morning, came back, felt happy to see the pictures of the couple, both senior army officers and dear friends, enjoying in Mumbai. They were to leave Chennai and now posted to Mumbai. All their stuff was packed and they had gone to Mumbai to do initial formalities before shifting finally.

God had different plans for them. On the very first day of Dec. Chennai recorded 374mm rainfall and it was supposed to continue for the week, declared weather forecast.

The scene was changed by the evening and Chennai was set to face its worst floods in 100 years.

As  I watched the mind numbing pictures on TV and scary scale of disaster…

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A CEREMONY OF TEA

For Rashmi Kashyap of Soul n’ Spirit, this post is for you.


I don’t remember exactly when, but a while ago … a month? two? It’s hard to keep track of time. I mentioned in a post how difficult it is to get good tea in the U.S. It isn’t impossible, of course. If you have sufficient resources, you can get anything.

Ordinary folk are limited to local shops and the ubiquitous Internet. The problem is not that tea (in general) is not available. It is quality tea, fresh tea, which is nearly unobtainable. By the time we get it, it’s old. Tired. Teabag tea is not tea. I’m not sure what it is.

tea pot, tea canister, tea

I’m sure there are sources for better tea, especially in cities which are home to large Asian communities. But not here. In this part of New England, items people can find routinely in shops elsewhere, are unavailable.

We won’t starve. Beef, chicken, some fish. If you want something more exotic (by local standards, anything other than brown gravy, white bread, and hamburgers is exotic), for example items you need to create Asian cuisine, are not for sale. For years, I couldn’t even find matzoh meal, which I never considered remotely exotic. Perhaps I am exotic.

We live in the country. Rural. On the plus side, we are blessed — in season — with fresh produce from local farms. Milk comes from cows who graze in green pastures and sleep contentedly in the shade on warm summer days. Eggs are laid by chickens who wander about, pecking and clucking. They don’t know how lucky they are.

glass teapot

We’ve got horses, goats, and the occasional llama … but fresh tea? Rice other than Carolina long grain? Spices? Fresh curry powder? Light or medium soy sauce?

It’s no wonder Americans are not tea drinkers considering the tasteless dust which passes for tea. I’m pretty sure our local Chinese restaurants makes its tea made from teabags in the kitchen. The only good tea I’ve had in years is the green tea at our Japanese restaurant.

tea in teapot

The miracles wrought by the Internet are not limited to exchanging email and reading each others’ blogs. Rashmi Kashyap of Soul n’ Spirit heard the yearning in my post. Last week, a package arrived from far away India.

Wrapped carefully in fabric, packed for its long journey around the world. Tea. Fresh, beautiful tea. Not the dry, old stuff you get here or even online, but tea so young it can remember growing in the earth.

teapot and canister

I have a big earthenware teapot and made a pot that same night. It was amazing. Garry admitted he had never tasted tea like that. It was a different experience.

I needed a smaller, brewing teapot suitable for a couple. I have owned several over the years, but since coming back from Israel, it has seemed pointless. Now, though, I have a reason.

brewed tea in glass teapot

Amazon to the rescue. One glass, brewing teapot, perfect for two people. A small canister to store the tea, seal out light and seal in freshness. A tea measuring spoon because (blush) I don’t remember how to measure tea anymore. After 33 years in the U.S., I can’t think metric.  I thought I couldn’t forget. I was wrong.

It took a couple of days to get my teapot and other things. Finally, I could properly serve tea.

It is a soul-enriching experience. Tea in the evening. A couple of crispy things on the side. Garry drank three cups (they are little cups, tea cups) as did I.

I thank my friend on the other side of the word with each sip. I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Maybe this post will help.